Crick Down the Legside

September 21, 2009 5:11 AM

Swann saves England's blushes

Typical England. Just when you think they're in terminal decline, they produced an inspired performance at Durham yesterday, with Swann's five wickets leaving Australia posting a decidedly England-like score of 176, enabling the hosts to avoid the ignominy of a 7-0 whitewash.
Swann and Strauss would have given their right arms for a turner like this in the previous six games - although the frailty of England's batting may not have made that much difference to the overall outcome.
One Swann doesn't make a summer though, and England travel to South Africa with more ODI baggage than a fully loaded 747, with question marks aplenty with bat and ball. Their insipid performances have taken much of the gloss off the Ashes victory and they will have to hope several key players - make that half the team - can somehow raise their games for the Champions Trophy.
In contrast, Ponting's men showed character and class to come back fighting after the Ashes defeat, and must touch down in the southern hemisphere in confident mood - although for all their superiority in this tournament, they're far from invincible.

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